Can I Go Swimming During My Period?

woman floating on her back, swimming in ocean
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Question: Can I Go Swimming During My Period?

Answer: Yes, you can safely swim during your menstrual period.

In fact, while you are menstruating you can pretty much do anything that you do at all other times of the month, except maybe wear tight white pants. Yes, that includes all activities from swimming to sex!

Most of the information that you find recommending restricting your physical activity during your period is based on cultural beliefs and taboos about menstruation.

The most important thing to consider when swimming with your period is to be sure that you have adequate protection to control your bleeding.  

This is very important for two reasons. First, it is pretty hard to hide a menstrual accident in a bathing suit! Second, it is not sanitary for you to release your bodily fluids into the water where others are swimming.

Because you will be going into the water it will be necessary for you to use a form of internal protection. Pads that are worn externally attached to underwear will not work when they get wet. Because they are made to absorb liquids they will rapidly expand when they get wet and will not be able to absorb any of your menstrual flow.  Leaving you an uncomfortable mess!

The appropriate choice for managing your menstrual flow while swimming during your period is a tampon or a menstrual cup. It is important to adjust the absorbency of your tampon to accommodate your flow.

It is normal for some water to get into your vagina when you are swimming. The tampon will absorb the water and become a bit more distended and possibly slightly less effective. You may find that you have to change your tampon more frequently. If you are comfortable using a menstrual cup this is an excellent alternative because it does not absorb any water that may enter the vagina.

Another common fear about swimming in the ocean during your period is the thought that menstrual blood will attract sharks.  Not only will you be using sanitary protection, the general consensus among shark experts is that menstruating women do not attract sharks.

Not only is it safe to go swimming during your period it is actually a really good idea. Staying active has been shown to help ease the cramping and fatigue that some women experience during their monthly period. Swimming in particular can be very helpful. Since your body is buoyant in the water you may not notice the discomfort that can be associated with the bloating that you may have during their period.

If you like it, swimming might be a great way to get exercise and stress relief during your period.  Or if you are more the splash around on the beach kind of gal, don’t let your period stop you from enjoying a nice day in the sun.  Just don’t forget to pack a few extra tampons along with your sunscreen.

Updated by Andrea Chisholm, MD

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